Cuomo OKs bills to expand absentee voting in NY

A voter casts a ballot at Aquebogue Elementary School on...

A voter casts a ballot at Aquebogue Elementary School on July 28 in the Riverhead school district budget revote. Credit: James Carbone

One of the laws would allow voters to begin requesting ballots immediately, another allows New Yorkers to cite COVID-19 as a reason to obtain an absentee ballot and the final would allow absentee ballots to be mailed as late as Election Day and still be counted.

Together, the bills could clear the path for many, if not most, New Yorkers to vote by mail this fall, officials said.

The Democratic-controlled State Legislature had approved all of the measures in July, saying they would address some of the problems the pandemic triggered during the June primary; the pandemic has spurred a huge growth in absentee and mail-in voting this year.

In signing the bills, Cuomo, also a Democrat, cited the Trump administration’s attempt to change postal service operations that could hinder the delivery of absentee ballots.

"The federal administration has ordered an unprecedented attack on the U.S. Postal Service, and with COVID-19 threatening our ability to have safe, in-person voting, these measures are critical to ensuring a successful and fair election at one of the most important moments in our nation's history,” Cuomo said.

NY COVID-19 hospitalizations lowest since March

The number of people hospitalized with COVID-19 across the state is down to 518, the lowest since March 18, Cuomo said Thursday.

The number of new infections in New York, based on positive tests recorded Wednesday, remained at a level below 1% for the 13th day in a row, he said. There were five new COVID-19 deaths recorded, state officials said, for an overall death toll of 25,275 in New York.

Meanwhile, the State Liquor Authority and State Police Task Force visited 1,230 bars and restaurants on Long Island and in New York City on Tuesday to make sure they were complying with state regulations to have people socially distance and wear face coverings in an effort to slow the spread of COVID-19.

They handed out just three violations — two in Manhattan and one in Brooklyn.

The number of new positives reported today: 49 in Nassau, 48 in Suffolk, 273 in New York City and 601 statewide.

The chart below shows the cumulative number of coronavirus-related deaths in New York City and the state. Search a map of cases and view more charts showing the latest numbers in testing, hospitalizations, new cases and more.

This chart shows the cumulative number of people who have...

This chart shows the cumulative number of people who have died of the coronavirus.

Wyandanch library has remained closed since pandemic began

The Wyandanch Public Library has not submitted a reopening plan,...

The Wyandanch Public Library has not submitted a reopening plan, officials said. Credit: James Carbone

The Wyandanch public library is the only library in Suffolk County to have not resumed any services because of what the library said are COVID-19 health concerns with the building, which will be the site of in-person voting next month.

Wyandanch, like all libraries, shut down in mid-March and moved to virtual programming. It is the only one of Suffolk’s 56 libraries not to resume services in some fashion, according to Kevin Verbesey, director for the Suffolk Cooperative Library System.

The county’s other libraries began offering curbside service in June or July, he said, and most followed with limited services in buildings. Wyandanch has not submitted any reopening plans, he said.

According to meeting comments from library board vice president Nancy Holliday, the library does not have windows that open and the HVAC system does not properly circulate air.

Educators give tips for keeping kids engaged in remote learning

Signing up for virtual extracurricular activities, frequent study breaks and consistent communication with teachers are among the top tips for keeping students engaged during remote learning, a panel of local educators said at a Newsday Live web event.

“I would encourage parents to ask what’s available at their specific schools and join — no matter what age, get them involved,” said Lynn Cromeyn, Northport High School’s marching band and symphonic winds director.

The panel of educators shared advice and lessons they’ve learned over the last few months with remote learning and gearing up for a school year that will likely combine online and in-person instruction. District leaders have been meeting with parents over the last few days to discuss reopening plans.

You can watch the full virtual event here.

'Our religion tells us to go out and do something'

Jasleen Sabharwal works with other Sikh volunteers during Glen Cove...

Jasleen Sabharwal works with other Sikh volunteers during Glen Cove High School's food drive on Wednesday. Credit: Johnny Milano

Jasleen Sabharwal has always been inspired by faith to help those in need — one of the essential values of Sikhism is selfless service.

At the beginning of the pandemic, Sabharwal bought hand sanitizer, face masks and gowns for rehabilitation centers. Then she and some friends started delivering home-cooked meals to hospitals.

But she wanted to do more. She discovered the food pantry for local families in her community of Glen Cove and mobilized a team of volunteers. After collecting donations, they have steadily provided food contributions to the food pantry for months.

“I could easily write a check of $100 to go and give somebody,” she said, “but part of our religion is to not only donate; our religion tells us to go out and do something.”

More to know

Fields at Babylon Memorial Grade School are one site where the...

Fields at Babylon Memorial Grade School are one site where the Babylon Soccer Club had practiced and played. Credit: Newsday / Steve Pfost

A junior soccer club in Babylon Village is looking for places to play and may have to pay for private fields after the Babylon Union Free School District wouldn't process the club's permit, citing the executive order that closed facilities for the pandemic.

Lord & Taylor at Walt Whitman Shops will close, making that one of five additional locations closing after its parent company filed for Chapter 11 bankruptcy protection.

Brain Scientific Inc. is moving from Brooklyn to Bohemia for more space to meet the anticipated demand for its medical devices because of the coronavirus, executives said.

The number of laid-off workers seeking U.S. unemployment benefits rose to 1.1 million last week after two weeks of declines.

Guidance for the high school sports season will come next week, Cuomo said, coming as a relief for many high school officials who have been eager for direction from the state.

News for you

Cori Goldfarb of Old Westbury gets her eyebrows and eyelashes...

Cori Goldfarb of Old Westbury gets her eyebrows and eyelashes done by Clementina Richardson, founder of Envious Lashes in Commack. Credit: Johnny Milano

It's all about the eyes above the mask. Now that we're wearing face masks, there's a spotlight on the eyes — and surgeons, aestheticians and makeup artists on Long Island say more people are getting treatments to enhance them. See what some are doing, whether it's using new makeup or even surgery.

An outdoor concert to end the month. Patchogue Theatre has added a second performance for its next “Music Under the Marquee” series. The Kerry Kearney Band will now also play at 1:30 p.m. on Aug. 30. Better hurry — the first performance sold out in nine hours.

If you're working from home. You might need a password manager to help protect you. Here's a list of four top-rated password managers that can also sync your data between mobile devices and desktops.

A thought for businesses. As companies start bringing people back to their offices with some staff still working remotely, experts say employers shouldn't abandon their team-building efforts. Read more.

Plus: Join us for Newsday's next free virtual event on Friday, with the Long Island Association, for a conversation with local leaders devising an economic recovery plan for Long Island. Register now.

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   Credit: Getty Images/iStockphoto/intararit

School reopenings depend on numbers, not guesswork. The intense debates over school openings are missing something crucial: numbers, writes Bloomberg Opinion columnist Cass R. Sunstein. Without them, it's essentially impossible to know what to do or to evaluate what is being proposed.

Here's an analogy. Suppose that the Food and Drug Administration is contemplating a new food safety regulation, or that the Department of Transportation is considering new restrictions on railroads. The White House Office of Information and Regulatory Affairs is supposed to require it to identify the gains and the losses — the benefits and the costs.

Those numbers might not be decisive, but they're needed. In their absence, the decision whether to proceed, or not to proceed, is essentially a stab in the dark. 

The decision whether and how to reopen schools is being made by states and localities, not by Washington, and numbers need to inform those choices. The problem is that for school openings (and much more), we're mostly hearing abstractions and generalities — expressions of agitation and fear.